Oracle quietly slashes BI software prices

Oracle's flagship BI Foundation Suite's price tag is lowered as market competition stiffens

Oracle has quietly cut the list price of its flagship BI (business intelligence) Foundation Suite significantly, possibly in response to increased market competition.

BI Foundation Suite was previously priced at US$450,000 per processor license, but on an official price list dated June 25, the cost is listed at $300,000. However, a named user plus license remained listed at $3,675.

BI Foundation Suite encompasses Oracle BI Enterprise Edition 11g, BI Publisher, Essbase, Scorecard and Strategy Management, and Essbase Analytics Link, according to an official whitepaper.

The new price list also lowers the price of BI Suite Enterprise Edition Plus from $295,000 to $221,250, as well as Scorecard and Strategy Management from $149,250 to $89,550.

In an update released earlier this year, Oracle added support for pulling data from Hadoop, the popular open-source framework for large-scale data processing, as well as a new Microsoft Office connector that provides for interaction with Excel.

Now new Foundation Suite customers as well as existing ones who wish to expand their footprint stand to get licenses for significantly less money.

While Oracle and other software vendors commonly give customers discounts off list prices, the reduced cost of Foundation Suite means those negotiations will begin at a lower starting point.

Oracle didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday on the pricing reductions, but one analyst offered a possible explanation.

"As far as I am concerned there's huge competition in the BI market, from both traditional vendors and tons of newcomers," said Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson via email. "I track [more than] 20 vendors who can more or less provide similar functionality. I can't imagine why there wouldn't be huge price pressures on all BI vendors."

Miro Consulting, which advises Oracle customers on contract negotiations with the vendor, caught wind of the BI price cut recently, according to Miro president Eliot Arlo Colon.

"We pushed back asking for clarification to explain if there was a reduction in functionality or any prerequisite that had been added," Colon said. "For Oracle to put out a substantial price reduction with no guidance was odd."

"There's usually some gotcha," he added. "'We've reduced the price, however we're reducing the price because you'll need this management pack to realize the full value of the product.'"

Miro hasn't heard anything yet from Oracle but was promised an answer next week, Colon said.

Oracle recently wrapped up its fourth fiscal quarter, which is its busiest period for contract closings. Miro didn't find itself involved in many BI deals in the fourth quarter, according to Colon. "There were a lot of people looking at it but very few people pulled the trigger."

BI software was somewhat unique among tech product categories during the global recession, with sales growth continuing despite economic concerns as companies sought to derive insights and efficiencies from their business data.

But last year, the pace of BI software spending growth slowed to about 7 percent after jumping 17 percent in 2011, according to a report released last month by analyst firm Gartner.

In total, the BI market stood at US$13.1 billion in 2012, Gartner said. SAP led the market with $2.9 billion in revenue, followed by Oracle at roughly $1.9 billion, according to Gartner's survey.

However, Oracle's BI revenue grew by 2 percent in 2012, compared to SAP's 0.6 percent BI growth rate that year, Gartner said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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